Tuesday, October 4, 2022
HomeTravel Writing*An English Journey Author*: Glad 2022!

*An English Journey Author*: Glad 2022!

I actually recognize the priority of these type individuals who have requested if I’m OK.  I have not written for ages, however I have been okay. The primary motive for my silence was not attending to grips with the issue about Blogger followers.  Bear in mind final 12 months you have been presupposed to migrate all of your followers to another system?  I discovered some directions on the way to do it and migrated my followers onto a pocket book file.  After that I wasn’t certain what to do with the file I might created. I meant to verify however life was busy and there was by no means time. 

I’ve now forgotten no matter it was I used to be presupposed to do, so I’ll put one other publish on hoping it would nonetheless work properly sufficient to a minimum of attain the individuals who have been studying it earlier than, even when I do not get any new followers. However I am undecided if that can occur. 

   So. beginning in January 2021, listed below are footage taken one frosty, sunny day once we determined to stroll as much as the heath. On the best way we handed a cabman’s shelter basking within the winter solar.  

These shelters are often humble little sheds by taxi ranks, serving tea, espresso, bacon sandwiches, and so on. I am not a cab-driver, however I purchased a extremely glorious scone to nibble on our stroll. Wanting down, I could not assist admiring the attractive mosaic ground. Dated 1935, it wasn’t the form of ground you typically discover in a shack. A pleasant little bit of Cubism, and professionally accomplished.. 


  On additional investigation I discovered that regardless of appearances, the shelter is not only a shack.  The truth is, it was designed by Elisabeth Scott, the architect of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford on Avon. I discovered a photograph of this well-known theatre shortly after its completion within the Nineteen Thirties – it is not likely my cup of tea, I am afraid. However the helpful unpretentious cab shelter acquired my vote. It is simply what you wish to discover on a stroll. 

In February we have been nonetheless in lockdown, and London was eerily empty, a bit creepy, really.  It was, although, attention-grabbing to expertise the sensation of a abandoned London for what have to be the primary time in about 1,500 years.  One darkish and gloomy afternoon I went with a ramble with my daughter V. down a few of the hidden facet streets close to Covent Backyard. They’re nonetheless correct working streets however throughout lockdown, some felt extra like film units – the bow-windowed little retailers, the massive unlit gas-lamp, the empty passageway main who is aware of the place?  (And I just like the defiant slogan stencilled on the wall, too,  saying EAT THE RICH.)   

No indicators of life, aside from Hedwig looking of the window.  And I believe even Hedwig was stuffed. 

But it surely wasn’t all darkish.  February is a birthday month in our household and the twins have been actually thrilled to be seven.  They every designed, embellished and helped to combine their very own desserts, and actually loved their occasion. 

 The occasion was attended by about 30 of their delicate toys, since college was closed, and their actual reside pals weren’t allowed to return over.  (I assumed maybe the toys weren’t fairly pretty much as good as actual company, however they have been puzzled at this concept. No, they mentioned, the toys have been actually nice! )   Afterwards they packed up bits of cake and went on a protracted stroll round their human pals’ homes delivering the cake packages at their entrance doorways and waving at them by home windows.  Youngsters adapt in a short time to the strangest circumstances.  

Generally we met up with household or pals in central places, all the time outside, and had some good walks.  The employees within the few open retailers we handed have been all the time working alone, and had little or no to do. I seen how a few of them would even leap ahead hopefully as you handed the door, simply in case you have been going to return in and discuss to them.  They jogged my memory of tied-up canine ready exterior retailers for his or her house owners to return again.  Someday I felt so sorry for a lady serving in a French patissier’s that I went in and purchased a charcoal baguette simply to offer her one thing to do.  

This is a photograph, beneath. It tasted similar to a standard French baguette however regarded so putting that I deliberate to purchase one other couple if we ever had company over once more for a meal. How good it might look with a extremely vibrant soup.  (Sadly, after I returned a number of months later, the store had stopped promoting charcoal baguettes so I by no means acquired to attempt that concept. ) 

By March, the pots of spring bulbs have been properly out …

… and early blossom bushes bloomed within the parks. We might had our first vaccinations by now,  and lockdown was much less strict.  You could possibly go into fairly a number of varieties of retailers now, when you needed. 

So we ventured additional afield, and it was actually thrilling.  Going the 70 miles to Hungerford, in West Berkshire,  appeared virtually as a lot of a thrill as Thailand would have been the earlier 12 months!  The image beneath exhibits The Marsh, a nature reserve simply exterior Hungerford. I cherished the impact of final 12 months’s bleached reeds towards the vivid white show of blackthorn within the hedge.    The blackthorn bush will get its title as a result of the pure blossoms emerge lengthy earlier than the leaves, and look putting towards the black thorny branches. 

April started with bitterly chilly climate, however at some point T and I braved a biting Arctic wind to walk round Blackfriars and Fleet Avenue, and we paused to admire the Black Friar pub, one of many nicest Artwork Nouveau buildings in London. Listed here are a few of the carvings, mosaics and copper work on the surface.   Within the Sixties, unbelievably, this pub was about to be demolished however a public outcry, led by Sir John Betjeman, saved it for posterity.

Contained in the pub is much more putting than the surface. Due to its eccentric format, it is not possible to {photograph} the bar correctly even when it is open, which it wasn’t throughout our go to. (This photograph, on your curiosity, provides a very reasonable concept of a part of the primary bar, however would not even supply a glimpse of the attractive stained glass home windows which present the lives of the monks who lived right here lots of of years in the past.)  The one solution to actually recognize this pub is to return to London and have a drink there. 

I first visited the Black Friar after I was barely sufficiently old to go to pubs in any respect.   I used to be tremendously impressed by the pub cat, an enormous portly sociable creature, who sat on the bar with a saucer of beer. It joined in with every little thing and its occasion trick was to catch pennies and bask within the applause. An actual Falstaff of a cat.  I can discover no point out of it on-line, which is a disgrace – it needs to be remembered.    

Simply on the opposite facet of Blackfriars Bridge is the London workplace of the Wells Fargo firm. They preserve this beautiful coach on the bottom ground. It is both actual and superbly superbly restored, or else an costly duplicate.  it, I gave thanks that I by no means needed to bump my means by the Wild West on one thing like that.  


In Could, lots was nonetheless shut, however we have been capable of keep for every week close to Haslemere in Surrey. Though it’s only about 45 miles from Piccadilly Circus, our cottage was as rural as  you might want for and you might stroll proper out of the gate into unspoiled Nationwide Belief countryside.  These stunning cows wandering up the lane are of an unusual breed referred to as Belted Galloways. 

We did some mountaineering, revisiting one other cottage the place we would as soon as stayed when V was very younger.  In these days “Gnome Cottage” was owned by the Youth Hostels Affiliation and was a particularly un-restored outdated place with an enormous outdated log fireplace and no working water (besides from the stream). We had a good time there all the identical.    

It’s now modernised, so the expertise of bygone dwelling will need to have pale for whoever lives there now. I believe it could be a ranger,  for the reason that space is now protected, and possibly it’s simply as properly if he would not have to attract his water from the somewhat muddy little stream and boil it!    

In June we had a weekend away with daughter Ok and household, renting the one Airbnb we may get at an inexpensive measurement and value not too removed from London.  The price of vacation lodging in England has skyrocketed so we took what we may get, which fortunately turned out to be a pleasant home within the nice market city of Alton, Hampshire. It was inside a stroll of this painted woman, who stands in a brick alcove in Alton’s Excessive Avenue. 

If she appears acquainted then sure, it’s Jane Austen. She lived solely a few miles from Alton within the village of Chawton.  Her household residence nonetheless survives, and you’ll go to it and discover out heaps about her.   I am sorry to say that none of us are large followers of Jane’s writing, and all of us felt extra inclined to go to Chawton Home, a mansion which belonged to her brother Edward.  (For Austen followers, this was the unique of the “Large Home” which she mentions generally in her letters.)  

Brother Edward had been, (terribly), adopted into a fancy household referred to as the Knights, and obliged to take their surname as a situation of inheriting the home and property. There have been no direct Knight heirs, and I suppose Edward, who was distantly associated, had appeared the more than likely lad out of the household’s distant cousins.  Anyway, it labored out very properly for everybody together with Jane, for he sorted her and their mom very properly together with his newfound wealth.   

The home itself fared much less properly than the Austens.  By the mid twentieth century it turned greater than a bit run down.  Think about your individual residence repairs if your own home had been uncared for for 75 years, and was additionally completely enormous. Then think about the issues whether it is listed as of architectural curiosity so every little thing wants restoring in an genuine (and wildly costly) conventional means. 

In opposition to all the percentages, the current lord of the manor managed to rescue Chawton Home and get it repaired. It’s now partly a library of girls’s writing over the ages, and likewise a stunning place to tour. We loved trying round it and have been fortunate sufficient to satisfy…..

….the current Lord’s youthful brother, Jeremy, who you see beneath.  He was having fun with assembly guests and taking them round his childhood residence. 

    A kinder and extra unpretentious particular person than Jeremy you could not want to meet, and he was very good to the twins who have been determined to play with the afternoon tea on the desk in entrance of him (it was really knitted out of wool).   I discovered a ebook by his daughter within the bookstore, and she or he describes the extraordinary life the household lived in the home when it was actually crumbling about their ears.

Alton struck us as a really good city.  Its parish church is most spectacular, and occurs to face on the location of an necessary Civil Conflict battle.  Woman Twin, who has non secular leanings, needed to listen to what all of the issues contained in the church have been referred to as.   Boy Twin was extra to identify the musket holes within the church’s historical oak entrance door. 

We additionally loved visiting Gilbert White’s Home close by.  An ideal early naturalist, White wrote a “Pure Historical past of Selbourne” and a part of his home’s intensive gardens and grounds are laid out in keeping with his personal designs and utilizing crops of his alternative. A working duplicate of the “cover” he invented for observing wildlife proved to be irresistible for anybody beneath 10.   It’s constructed out of an enormous beer barrel, it revolves in full circles, and is thatched.  The native birds and animals seen nothing uncommon about it,  apparently, however the twins actually cherished revolving in it and it was onerous to pull them away.  

June was a pleasant month.  Life started to really feel a bit extra regular nonetheless, and we had a memorable stroll with our different daughter and husband across the Kent village of Trottiscliffe (pronounced “Trosley”).   Our path took us by alpaca fields – the alpacas had clearly simply been shorn. 

There was an historical prehistoric grave advanced marked by enormous stones, and a fairy tree.  We often come throughout these in out-of-the-way locations. They’re bushes on which individuals focus their religious emotions,  tying ribbons and prayers on it.  The positioning could be very peaceable, removed from busy roads, reached solely by footpath and with views over the encircling countryside. 

In July we took a brief cycle journey to Wiltshire, simply west of Marlborough.  We stayed in a backyard constructing which had been an artist’s studio subsequent to a rambling thatched cottage. The pleasant proprietor had  had a gypsy caravan within the orchard, superbly painted up everywhere in the inside by her good friend (sadly I could not get a very good image) however on taking a detailed look we determined we most popular the backyard constructing.  I do not know the way entire households ever lived in these horse drawn caravans as a result of they’re extraordinarily tiny!  


We additionally loved some walks across the native village, Lockeridge, which is an efficient place for “sarsen stones”. These are the type of stones used to construct close by Stonehenge and Avebury, however not as massive because the clearly very particular ones on the temples.  They’re mendacity about in all places, and can be discovered on close by Fyfield Down which we cycled over at some point on the best way to the henge in Avebury. 

We have been additionally intrigued by the pub check in Lockeridge referred to as “Who’d A Thought It”  I might wish to know story that the signal refers to  – does anybody know?  We weren’t going into pubs on the time so could not have a pint there and ask the owner. 

 In August, we drove as much as Yorkshire to see an outdated good friend of mine, plus a really outdated good friend of Tony’s, and my niece, all of whom reside in numerous bits of this massive county.  There’s so much to see in Yorkshire that it’s onerous to decide on what to say.  I believe I used to be most impressed by Yorkshire Sculpture Park, which I had not been certain I might even like.  It’s largely outside within the parkland of Bretton Corridor, an 18th century home which is now in public use,  Its rolling acres and landscaped vistas supply area and context for quite a lot of enormous sculptures, so a lot of them very compelling.   

There have been many unbelievable Henry Moores and a few dazzling sculptures from Portugal. Beneath is a view  of “Valkyrie Marina Rinaldi” from an enormous short-term exhibition by the very attention-grabbing artist Joana Vasconcelos,   (click on right here if you would like to know extra her and her work.)

The sculpture that me most was a set of animal heads by Ai Wei Wei, the Chinese language artist.  He has a knack of making objects which appear to convey all kinds of various concepts.  

These are 4 of 12 animal heads, every on a trunk which is a bit bigger than the typical grownup. To the Chinese language folks these animal sculptures are apparently a logo of Chinese language oppression by the West. They’re replicas of a set of heads created in 1750 by Europeans on the courtroom of Emperor Quianlong and the originals have been looted way back. 

I used to be struck by how bizarre it was to see every head the identical measurement, regardless of how large the animal.  That clean, timid rabbit head may by no means devour sufficient to keep up a physique the dimensions of the bear subsequent to it. It is born to be prey. The mouse is much more helpless trying.  The bear, against this, could be a fierce carnivore it doesn’t matter what its measurement – it is not possible to think about it peacefully nibbling grass.  And the Chinese language Dragon, a fantasy creature, is most spectacular of all, being a creature of creativeness. 

When September arrived,  we headed as much as Suffolk to see our area, see our pals and see what was new. We handle to go to two or 3 times a 12 months and I’m all the time blissful to see these large skies and open fields of East Anglia, which have been then trying very golden.  

One of many issues I like in regards to the space are its attention-grabbing church buildings. So a lot of them are filled with curious and delightful outdated woodwork, needlework or different crafts.  Listed here are some baffling outdated pew ends at Earl Stoneham’s parish church.  What on earth do you suppose they may imply?  I actually don’t know. This character, (a person who appears to me as if he is modelled on an actual particular person) appears to be in chain mail, or some type of hood.  However why is he carrying two heads?  Or maybe he has three heads rising out of various elements of his physique?    So many historical church buildings include such issues which clearly had significance. Usually, the grotesqueries have been meant to warn congregation towards explicit sins or concepts.  Are you able to think about coming to church and assembly these characters each Sunday? 

Earl Stoneham church additionally has an impressive wood roof which will need to have taken years to make. 


It’s carved with stunning angels trying down on the congregation, and at these different quaintly carved  reminders of sin and the difficulties of life.  And little question the congregation regarded up on the angels above and felt reassured.

Over the months, in London, we have been getting out too, significantly on our brief cycle rides  up and down hills to native areas of curiosity. As soon as we met a Pearly Royal  Household. 

In early October we climbed as much as a prehistoric fort on West Woodhay Down, a part of the traditional fortified Wessex panorama.  A number of grassland, sheep, small fields, clumps of woodland, hardly any folks, and, I’m certain, a whole lot of archaeology hidden within the chalky soil.  

It was very clear and vibrant at first, however because the day moved on,  ornamental clouds of all sorts gathered within the sky after which floated away once more.  I could not take my eyes off them. 

Round this time of 12 months there was an incredible scarcity of petrol and a scarcity of products within the retailers, principally as a result of there aren’t sufficient truck drivers.  There was fairly a little bit of panic shopping for, and big queues at most filling stations, if that they had any petrol in any respect.


We handed a pub which jokingly advised it was time to panic purchase some beer 🙂

The November climate wasn’t too unhealthy.  We took the prospect, lastly, to attend the Alice in Wonderland exhibition on the V & A, “Curiouser and Curiouser”.   It had some ingenious interactive  and multi media reveals, together with the mad Tea Occasion which makes use of animation projection to create a whirl of adjusting color and sample on the Hare and Hatter’s tea desk.  The little fellow you’ll be able to see standing there in his masks was amazed and intrigued. 

In November, Christmas issues started showing within the retailers. I used to be very impressed with this window on the native SHELTER charity store.  My photograph is not excellent nevertheless it was all glittery and white and eye catching, and it took me some time to understand it was really promoting secondhand items.  Apparently one in every of their volunteers has an curiosity in show, and ever since then I’ve been trying out their home windows, which are sometimes actually attention-grabbing. They get good things donated, too. 

We took some little walks in autumnal townscapes to benefit from the final of an Indian Summer time. 

Then, it was December, and abruptly Christmas was upon us.  It was a barely tough Christmas, not least due to complete lack of steerage from the federal government about what we have been allowed to do.    Nonetheless, we managed to see everybody and have some enjoyable.  

And when Christmas was over, I began clearing out a load of junk, a form of early Spring cleansing, and acquired a stunning bunch of flowers from one in every of my daughters. I used to be so happy. Regardless that it was jsut previous Christmas, it was a reminder of the look and the scents of Spring.    

And right here we’re in January once more.    On the entire, it was a pleasant 12 months, aside from the very finish, and I hope yours additionally had some good moments.  Please have a very good 2022, and I hope that we’ll quickly see the pandemic fade into one thing extra manageable. 



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